Ben Dunno, Warri
Professor Sam Oyovbaire, is a former Information minister. He was the chairman of the 2019 Delta PDP Campaign Council. He speaks on the current political developments in the state.
There is a growing criticism of lopsidedness in the political appointments so far made by the governor. What’s your take on this?
It’s very obvious that those criticising the governor are not well informed. The governor that I know is someone who is knowledgeable about the function and character of the state. He knows those to appoint based on his understanding of the political dynamics of the state. I also believe that the individual he has appointed so far are people who know about his manifesto and what he wants to do. So far he has appointed eight out of the 25 commissioners. Before now he had sworn in the Chief of Staff, the Senior Political Advisor and Secretary to the State Government. He also appointed five political advisers and announced six more political advisers. In addition to the list of seven commissioners he sent to the state Assembly for approval within the week.
The truth is that you cannot stop anybody from speculating, especially those who had been with him in the last four years. Just because he has not re-appointed them, there is this tendency for people close to them to speculate. But for those he had appointed so far, nobody should accuse the governor of lopsidedness. I am very close enough to the governor to know this. The Secretary to the State Government (SSG) the Chief of Staff, Basil Ganagana, Chief James Agouye, the Economic Adviser, Dr. Kingsley Emu, they were all members of that committee. By this singular act we can say that the governor is putting together those he knows already have a grasp of what he wants and this pleases me a lot. More appointments are coming and don’t forget that in the future there are still some appointments he will be making that won’t be visible like what we are seeing now with the commissioners. These appointments are still ongoing and in no distant time, all of these would no longer be an issue.
There’s also this argument that what the governor is doing now is recycling of old politicians. What do say about this?
There is nothing people will not critic. So far we have one lady but more ladies are going to come. So far it is only eight commissioners that have been appointed out of the 25. I am glad that nobody has come forward to fault the age because most of present appointees are very young people. On whether the people coming are old hands, in government, yes, I don’t see anything wrong with that if they are good.
The question is, do you have to bring in new people for the fun of it? The answer is No. You need people who can drive your agenda and we all know that second tenure is usually a consolidation, preparation to exit and preparation to be succeeded. Who could have known better than the person who had been with you? Yes, it is important to inject new blood, but new blood takes time to settle down. This is why I said it should not be for the fun of it. Even these young ones that are now in government have been in government at a very young age. Somebody like Basil Ganagana has been around for some time now. He was a legislator representing Patani and this means he got into government at a very young age. He was there for about two to three legislative sessions and was an aide to the governor in the first tenure and now coming back as a commissioner and he’s still in his early 50s. Would you refer to him as being old? Now with someone like that who understood how the legislative arm works and now in the executive, won’t he bring his wealth of experience to bear in this government?
There are still others like that of the CoF, he’s a young man who has been around for sometime in government and you cannot fault his grasp of state of affairs. To me what is the most important is service delivery.
I sometimes wish that PDP was in control at the centre, some of these young men would have been recommended for appointments at the national level and this pressure at the state level over appointment would have been reduced.
Will you support appointment of large number of aides?
The politics of second tenure is an interesting one. In the build up to the election, there were so many people that were appointed. Some of them helped in the electioneering process. There are some who would come out to say in my community I worked very hard to ensure your acceptance as governor and as such the expectation are very high that everybody wants to be appointed. The interesting part is that anybody who has worked in electioneering process believes that the only way you can pay them back is to give them appointment, including those who already have appointments; they still want a higher appointment. And have it in mind that there is still large pool of unemployed youths which the government is also trying to carry along.
Yes, the second tenure is to consolidate, but do you need this large number to consolidate? My intuition will say no. But again as a party man, the governor would like to handover to somebody who can win election. So technically he needs to work for his exit and someone who could succeed him. So it’s neither here nor there. But there is a good argument in having less number of political advisers because of the cost implications.
Already, the wage bill of workers in the state alone is very high. And by the time you add the additional burden on payments of salaries and allowances of an over blotted aides, you discover you are left with less money for capital development. So this is something that he needs to balance, knowing full well that Delta people are looking up to him to impact their lives positively more in this second term with developmental projects.